Trash vs. Treasure
I have always thought musical instruments were carefully crafted by skilled tradesmen and preserved in pristine conditions for use only by well cultured, highly educated professionals, like, for instance, my wife, Valerie. Yet the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, Paraguay (or, as it has come to be known, "The Recycled Orchestra"), stands in the face of that.
The young people's message is emotionally powerful, and they have gone from being a small community-based gathering to having international recognition and support.
Hats off to creative innovation, the local "trash to triumph" instrument makers, and the lead of great educators like Favio Chavez, a Cateuro environmental engineer who taught the students music in his free time and pulled in skilled workers like Nicolas Gomez, or "Cola," who found ways to invent classical musical instruments out of what others have thrown away!
A documentary was made about the students' success, "Landfill Harmonic." The video from it has gone viral. Orchestra performances have brought badly needed extra funds to Cateuro. Even more important, poor kids who had been used under dire conditions just as child labor are getting educations and receiving well-deserved respect at home and around the world.
They are proving that we do not have to simply accept our fates when circumstances go against us. Who could have believed the transformation that has occurred for these "unfortunate ones" in Paraguay? What opportunities may lie ahead for any of us if we are open to new possibilities?
Primary source: From Trash to Triumph: The Recycled Orchestra. Anastasia Tsioulcas in npr.org; September 14, 2016.